New SIM, new me

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While adoption has been slower than we’d have liked to see, looking at nations where eSIM penetration is high, like the US and many countries across Europe, statistics show the consumer behaviour, interactions and attitudes towards mobile connectivity have started to change.

Switching sides

One of the key benefits of eSIM for consumers lies in its ability to enable users to switch devices with ease. Traditionally, switching mobile devices meant physically transferring the SIM card from one phone to another, a process that was cumbersome, time-consuming and required a lot of forward planning. With eSIM, this headache is eliminated entirely as users can remotely activate a new device and seamlessly switch between multiple subscriptions without ever needing to handle a physical SIM card.

It’s also possible to host as many as eight eSIMs on one device. This new capability makes a huge shift in markets that have traditionally been operator-controlled, with devices tied to one mobile operator.

According to research from OpenSignal, a greater share of users switch SIM cards when using a device with an active eSIM compared to those still using physical SIM cards. For example, in Q1 of 2023, in the UK just six per cent of all mobile users swapped or changed SIM cards versus 24.1 per cent of those using eSIMs. In Singapore, 18.3 per cent of all users swapped their SIM at some point during the quarter, compared to 70.6 per cent of those using eSIM.

Consumers are learning about eSIM plurality and how this could benefit them in practice. Users can easily switch between operators using an optimal tariff for each situation. From a consumer perspective this is particularly valuable when engaging in international roaming or making calls outside of their native country. It’s also possible to have two different SIM cards – one physical and an eSIM – to distinguish between work and personal life.

In this way, eSIM has made the consumer experience more flexible. Gone are the days of network lock-ins and having to make do with a costly mobile package. Consumers can do their own research and select several subscriptions to suit their individual needs best.

Changing the definition of service provider

eSIM has not only transformed how users interact with their devices, but also how they perceive a mobile service provider. eSIM technology diminishes the need for physical retail stores and customer service interactions, which have historically been essential touchpoints for mobile operators to build relationships with their customers. With the rise of eSIM, consumers may increasingly interact with device manufacturers, app stores and other digital platforms for their connectivity needs.

This ‘other digital platforms’ has created a new revenue potential for traditional non-telcos, by creating an opportunity for them to offer connectivity services to their customers through embedded connectivity. The only requirement for a company is to have a mobile application. If that box is checked, they can simply acquire an eSIM software development kit (SDK) and embed connectivity, enabled through eSIM, in as little as a couple of weeks.

This means that other businesses, such as technology companies, travel operators, hotels booking sites, or financial operators, can become a mobile connectivity provider and embed roaming products directly into their application. From a consumer perspective, it completely changes how a mobile provider is perceived — it’s no longer just a mobile operator, but could be any service provider in any industry.

Mobilise offers an eSIM SDK —  a “drop-in” solution that can be easily integrated into an existing app with no customisation required, to give consumers connectivity solutions whenever and wherever they need it. Featuring in-app eSIM activation and reliable global data coverage supporting 4G, embedded connectivity through eSIM SDK allows consumers to stay connected to the internet via your app with the tap of a button. 

The long-term impact of eSIM on consumers is yet to be seen, but the emerging changes have already begun. As the technology continues to evolve, we can expect the capabilities and definitions of mobile providers to change in line with eSIM’s potential.